Sa’eed Nelson instrumental in men’s basketball win
The senior point guard sets his career high in single-game steals
No ball was safe from Sa’eed Nelson on Tuesday night. In a big win against UMBC, the senior guard racked up a career-high eight steals as AU won 85-61.
From intercepting passess to picking pockets, Nelson tastefully disrupted UMBC’s offense and led AU’s defensive effort.
On AU’s defense, Coach Mike Brennan said that it all “starts with Sa’eed.”
Nelson’s defensive effort and the team’s strong defensive performance lead UMBC to turn the ball over 20 times – 5.4 more than their per game average. Nelson’s eight steals are tied for second all-time in a single game in AU men’s basketball history. He is currently the only player in Division I basketball this season with eight steals in a game, in addition to being fifth in Division I basketball in steals per game.
“It’s just being in the right positions, and we work on that a lot,” said Nelson.
Nelson played another stat-stuffing game. He finished with 17 points, seven assists (tying his season high) and three rebounds. In addition, he shot the ball an efficient 5-7 from the field, and 7-9 from the free throw line, both of these higher than his season averages of 50.6% from the field and 59.1% from the free throw line. Nelson scored most of his points with his slashing ability, as he drove to the basket for layups consistently.
Nelson’s game started slow, turning the ball over four times in the first half. But he turned it up and finished the half strong, scoring the final 7 AU points of the half. While he only had two assists in the first half, his playmaking improved in the second half as he was able to create much more scoring opportunities for his teammates.
“Sometimes, it’s not clicking for you, but you gotta keep playing,” said Nelson. “If the offense isn’t working, you gotta try to help the team out on defense. Whatever to get the team the win, that’s what I’m about.”
Nelson’s exceptional playmaking ability was shown through his impressive over-the-shoulder pass between two defenders which set up a perfect Connor Nelson 3-pointer. Not only was that pass difficult on its own to make, Nelson was surrounded by multiple defenders, showing off his versatility on offense.
While scoring less and taking fewer shots in the second half, Nelson’s grit never faded. Even with seven minutes left in the game and a 21 point lead, Nelson was still showing hustle as he dove on the floor for a loose ball.
Nelson, now in his fourth and final year at AU, is still playing the same impressive basketball that he has for the past few years. He currently averages 17 points per game, 4.0 assists per game, 3.7 rebounds per game and an eye-widening 3.1 steals per game. Nelson also currently sits at fifth in scoring in AU men’s basketball history.
Last season, Nelson proved that he is one of the best in the Patriot League. He was on First Team All-Patriot League, finished second in the PL in scoring and steals, fourth in PL assists per game and seventh in PL defensive rebounds. He also led AU in scoring, steals and assists last season.
After falling to George Mason University on Saturday, Nelson and the AU Eagles will try to continue their strong effort as they face Mount St. Mary’s on Dec. 17.